A NEW UPGRADE...
There's a new upgrade for the NF-1 (OS013) and NF-1m (OS006), ready for download at our download page! What's new?
- The Chorus/Flanger effect unit finally works entirely stable under heavy feedback, positive or negative. About time! No more ugly digital spikes or speaker-damaging noise bursts, you can safely turn up the feedback and enjoy comb filter self oscillation.
- The active Osc and Env selection get saved with the patch (NF-1 only)
- Osc phase randomisation can be selected. Before (and still the default), all oscillator phases got reset at the beginning of a note. Now they can be randomized to get some more 'life' in some patches. That's more or less the same as so-called free running oscillators
- You can set your NF-1(m) to start from the last loaded/saved patch at bootup. The default is still bootup with the empty init patch, but you can alter this in the System Settings menu
- And last but very, very far from least, Modor goes microtonal!
Microtonal? Oh boy ... That ear-torturing stuff for freaks and nerds desperately seeking for something to sound distinct. Really, do we need to go that way?
Well, not entirely ... There's much more than you might think. Listen to the following examples of a major C chord. First in standard 12-tone equal temperament tuning (most synthesizers' basic tuning), and then in Just Intonation. Quite a difference, isn't it? Does the first one have some chorus effect on it? No, not at all...
equaljust.mp3 // A major C chord in 12-EDO and Just Intonation.
Most synths (and many, many other instruments) use 12-EDO (12 Equal Divisions of the Octave), also known as (12-tone) equal temperament. The octave just gets divided in 12 equal parts, the 12 semitones of the octave. But that's actually only an approximation of real harmony. On a just intonated chord like the one above, the three notes C-E-G have their frequencies in proportion 4/4 - 5/4 - 6/4, or 1 - 1,25 - 1,5. On an equal tempered chord that's 1 - 1,25992105 - 1,498307077. So that's only an approximation, the three notes are sounding close, but keep slightly beating. In a just intonated chord, the three notes grab each other close and sound together as an integer unity. Both versions do sound well, but you can't say they're equal!
Now listen to the following example...
HarmoMelody.mp3 // A little melody using the notes in the 8f-16f octave of the harmonic row.
It's made using the so-called Harmonic Row. That's a row of notes with frequencies f, 2f, 3f, 4f, 5f, 6f, 7f, ... Or indeed, a row of harmonic frequencies of base frequency f. Here, f=33Hz or C-0, so 8f is 264Hz (C-3) and 16f is 528Hz (C-4). In the octave between C-3 and C-4 we have 8 notes in the harmonic row: C-3, D-3, E-3, F-3, G-3, A-3, Bb-3, B-3 and C-4. The F-3, A-3, and Bb-3 notes sound quite severely out of tune compared to the regular tonescale. But they are in a harmonic relation to the rest, so they still do sound harmonic in a way... It's very easy to play beautiful melodies in that octave. Fascinating, isn't it?
This is also the tonescale of alphorns and hunting horns. They lack all holes and valves to play notes that you find on other windblown instruments. You can only play the harmonics of the fundamental frequency of a long pipe. When you listen close, you'll hear the same notes going 'out of tune'.
A MICROTONAL NF-1(m)
So, that's why. A little introduction in the world of microtonalism. But what did we exactly implement on the Modor NF-1(m)?
There are thousands and thousands of different tuning systems in all shapes and colours around. Way too much to build in a menu selection system. So we went out into that mind-boggling, vast jungle of microtonalism to gather a few sweet fruits. We implemented a number of options you can select in the TONESCALE menu. Before, this menu gave you the possibility to tune each semitone in the octave up/down by a 1/4 tone. Now, you get the following options:
- Modor Scale, with the 1/4 tone tuning as before. The Modor default, as it was in previous firmware versions
- Just Intonation, with selectable root note
- User Preset, more about that below
- Equal Temperament, 1-EDO to 64-EDO (Equal Divisions of the Octave) and 1-EDT to 64-EDT (Equal Divisions of the Tritave)
- Harmonic Row
- A set of 10 of Erv Wilson's Hexanies
- A set of 10 of Erv Wilson's Dekanies
Of course, this is only a very small part of what's possible in the world of microtonalism. Those who need more, can use software programs like Scala to build and upload their own tonescales to the NF-1(m) and save them. Four scales can be saved in internally in the NF-1(m)'s flash memory. Modor supports the Midi Tuning Standard.
And that's what most other microtonality-capable synthesizers do. You have the possibility to upload irregular scales from a computer, play with them and eventually store them onboard. And that's it.
Modor's approach is a bit different. We collected a set of microtonal scales we encountered and found to be inspiring on our trip down the microtonal jungle. We implemented them in the NF-1(m) for you to roam around, play with them, and get inspired. And once you feel the connection, just store your patch. Your chosen microtonal scale gets saved along.
That's also an answer to another question: where are all the different Just Intonation options? Where are the Ptolemian, Pythagorean, Werkmeister, Meantone, ... etc tunings? Well, we don't want to overwhelm people with dozens of barely different options. We wanted to give a limited but inspiring set of possibilities instead of a plethora of options, as this often kills creativity. Dive into it, you won't drown!
Do you think we overlooked some interesting microtonal scale that should also be implemented? Please, let us know your thoughts for future firmware updates!
Oh yes... Before we forget, for the freaks. What is the exact Just Intonation scale Modor uses? We used the most 'strict' version of it, ie. the scale with the smallest numbers in the fractures. Example with root note C: